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World news in brief

28 May 2021

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Pope sends message after cable-car crash

POPE FRANCIS has offered his condolences to the families of the 14 people who died after the Stresa-Mottarone cable-car, in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, crashed on Sunday. Eitan Biran, a five-year-old Israeli citizen living in Italy, was the sole survivor, and has been hospitalised in Turin with several broken bones. In a telegram to the Bishop of Novara, Mgr Franco Giulio Brambilla, on Tuesday, the Pope offered “closeness and heartfelt condolence” to the relatives, “with compassion for so many lives tragically cut short while immersed in the wonders of Creation”. Italian prosecutors are investigating the incident.



Civilians killed in attack on Myanmar church

FOUR civilians are reported dead, and eight others wounded, after a military attack on a Roman Catholic church in Myanmar in the early hours of Monday. Military personnel reportedly fired heavy artillery shell at the Sacred Heart Church, Kayanthayar, near Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State. The roof, ceiling, and a cross were damaged. More than 300 people, from at least 60 families, had taken refuge in the church compound owing to fighting over the weekend between the military and an anti-coup resistance group, the Karenni People’s Defence Force. A spokesman for Loikaw diocese, Fr Soe Naing, said that everyone sheltering had fled by the time church officials checked the damaged building that morning.



Bishop and priests arrested in China

A VATICAN-appointed bishop, seven priests, and an unspecified number of seminarians in Hebei Province, China, have been arrested by the authorities, it has been reported. The priests and seminarians were reportedly detained on 20 May for violating the country’s new regulations on religious affairs. Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu, of Xinxiang diocese, was arrested on 21 May. The diocese is not recognised by the Chinese authorities. UCANews reports that the arrests came after the diocese decided to use an abandoned factory building as a seminary. Another report suggests that the Bishop and his priests are being held in solitary confinement in a hotel, where they are undergoing “political sessions”. Later that week, Pope Francis prayed for churchpeople in China: that the Holy Spirit would “guide them and help them to be bearers of the happy message, witnesses of goodness and charity, and builders of justice and peace in their country.”

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